Birds of a Feather
“Great things happen to those who don’t stop believing, trying, learning, and being grateful.”
Roy T. Bennett
This week our little island saw hundreds and hundreds of birds of all shapes and sizes soaring over one of our largest lagoons. A sudden (happily short-lived) cold snap caused a severe drop in the water’s temperature which created a decline in the oxygen level of the lagoon. As a result many of the lagoon’s fish either died or slowed significantly, such that they became easy prey for our avian friends.
“Each mistake teaches you something new about yourself.”
There were birds of prey, wading and shore birds as well as storks . I saw two bald eagles as well as three juveniles and several red-tailed hawks. There were many, still-endangered wood storks, dozens and dozens of egrets, hundreds of gulls, several ibis and the ever-present vultures waiting to clean up any mess left behind.
“To try and fail is at least to learn.”
I was determined to catch some of the birds in flight – always a challenge. In addition to using burst mode, I experimented with shooting in shutter speed mode (not my favorite), adjusting apertures and using Nikon’s Continuous AF/C. I ended up with at least as many throw-aways as keepers, but I also had some shots that I liked, and after all, isn’t that what experimenting is all about?
“Those who don’t jump will never fly.”
Leena Ahmad Almashat
Beyond the experimentation to catch the flying birds, I must say it’s the most excited I’ve been about a moment in nature in a long time. The incredible cacophony of the flying, swooping, squawking birds was amazing. Their movements were so graceful they reminded me of an avian ballet. Most interesting to me, they never even came close to colliding with each other – clearly what seemed like chaos to me was actually perfect avian choreography.
“Who dare tries is a success, and shall master the art of conquering dreams.”
The gulls were the noisiest and most aggressive. They seemed to have a well-developed process, defining which birds would swoop at what time and in which direction. They rarely surfaced without having made a catch, using remarkably impressive speed and precision.
“When you have faith in yourself, the possibilities are endless.”
Anthony T. Hicks
Finally, I’ll close with my favorite vulture capture, which I liked because it seemed a bit ominous. Although we may disparage them for being scavengers, in fact they serve a very important purpose. Were there no vultures to clean up our messes (as well as those of the avian community) we would have a much more difficult job keeping our streets, ponds, parks and pavement clean. So next time you see one, be sure to say thanks!
“The difference between try and triumph is a little umph.”
Speaking of saying thanks, remember next week as we gather with family and friends, the real point of Thanksgiving is gratitude. I know in addition to the many other things I am thankful for, I’ll also be thinking of this week’s wonderful gift of nature.